When FAJO Magazine spotted Rob Kempson at the Toronto Fringe Festival in July, his stylish outfit made him an obvious choice for our best dressed contest. The following week, Kempson was crowned the contest winner by our editor-in-chief, thanks to his mustard yellow pants, a navy blazer and a brown leather vintage bag – a colourful and vibrant pairing that made him truly pop out of the crowd. When we sat down to do an interview and photoshoot with Kempson, we realized that he is more than just a theatre talent. He is a true fashionisto!
By Justine Woolcott
Photography by Kalynn Friesen
Rob Kempson is a creative man.
He credits his job as the associate artistic director at Theatre Passe Muraille as a key motivator to his style. In fact, he says he has a lot of freedom in what he chooses to wear because of the creative environment he is constantly immersed in.
“I have the opportunity to wear really neat stuff in my day to day, which is great,” he says.
With a self-described eclectic style, Kempson takes a quirky edge to classic style. He loves suits, but has yet to own one in classic black.
“I find myself without a lot of basics, because everything I have is crazy. I like to try to pick something that will stand out from the crowd,” he says.
Kempson showcases his style on his blog, which he started in April 2010 to push himself to be in a constant creative zone, as he was working a lot in an administrative capacity.
“Since I started the blog, I haven’t worn the same outfit twice,” he says. ”They’re not always very different [though], sometimes just a belt changes.”
But it is this blog that makes every morning an adventure for Kempson when he gets dressed. He says he takes it as a challenge to put together a new outfit every day.
One such endeavour was when Kempson decided to wear a different pair of shoes each day for the month of May. He surprised himself when he was successful in the self-challenge, and says it was a lot of fun especially since some of his colleagues also joined in.
His co-workers are supportive of his blog, he adds, as they are often behind the camera taking pictures for him or referring his blog to their friends.
“For them, it’s okay that I don’t just do theatre, that I have this side interest in fashion and style, and that I pursue it,” he says.
However, working in theatre does have drawbacks to Kempson’s shopping habits.
“I don’t have a lot of money because I work in theatre and education, so I shop at places like H&M and Zara to buy trendy pieces,” he says. “I also use flea markets outside of the city, because they have great stuff you just can’t find in Toronto, unless you’re willing to pay high, high vintage prices.”
Keeping track of the clothes in his closet is, for him, a death wish, he laughs. It is there that he keeps his “ridiculous” shoe collection and his huge amassing of vintage travel bags.
It is also in this closet where his favourite pair of red pants resides.
“I have a whole bunch of pairs of coloured pants, but it is the red ones that always get lots of comments. I have a pair of mustard pants and pink ones, and teal ones, and they’re great, but the red ones are definitely [at the] top!”
Although Kempson has a wardrobe that many would envy, he is cautious to not emulate someone’s style.
“I don’t think I look to anyone in the way of, ‘are you someone who I want to look like?’ No, of course not, that’s weird,” says Kempson with a laugh. “I want to look like myself!”